Excessive drinking is portrayed in movies (Lost Weekend, Barfly and 28 Days are three), recorded in books (A Drinking Life: A Memoir by Pete Hamill), and, of course, detailed in blogs. While many blogs provide the latest research on addiction or other pertinent information, one thought-provoking, literary blog is The New York Times’ blog called Proof. It’s described on the site as follows:
For the past 10,000 years or so, wherever humans have gathered, there has been alcohol. Some never touch the stuff. But most do. It is used to celebrate, commiserate, mourn, remember and, often, to forget. It is different things to different people: libation, anesthetic, emotional crutch, social lubricant, addictive substance, sacred potion, killer or commodity. In “Proof,” contributors consider the charms, powers and dangers of drink, and the role it plays in their lives.
The contributors are superb writers, and many are recovering alcoholics. I happened upon “Proof” in 2008 and fell in love with the writing immediately, so I was crestfallen when it went on hiatus last year. It promises to return, however. (If you enter http://proof.blogs.nytimes.com/2009, you’ll see a drop-down menu that allows you to access all six months of the blog.) There’s also a timeline of alcohol in modern history for the curious, and if you click on Read More underneath the editors’ farewell message, you’ll find comments from readers that the editors chose to publish.
I’ve never had a drinking problem, so I can’t write about what alcoholism is like. But many of these writers can, and they’re eloquent and….human. It’s as if they’re driven to record the seduction they experienced, the monster they have dealt with, or their journey back. I’m reminded of a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: “You don't write because you want to say something; you write because you've got something to say.” There’s something about alcohol that makes people have something to say.
Here’s writer Tim Kreider musing on youth and alcohol:
“My years of heavy drinking were roughly coterminous with my youth, and looking back now, it’s hard to figure out which one of them I really miss. The association between the two is not just Pavlovian. Drunkenness and youth share in a reckless irresponsibility and the illusion of timelessness. The young and the drunk are both reprieved from that oppressive, nagging sense of obligation that ruins so much of our lives, the worry that we really ought to be doing something productive instead. It’s the illicit savor of time stolen, time knowingly and joyfully squandered.”
And from writer Sacha Scoblic:
“Lots of addicts in recovery worry that they might relapse if they hang out with old friends, if they lose their job, or if a loved one dies. I worry I might relapse if an exciting opportunity to get wasted with a celebrity comes along.”
Perhaps those excerpts whet your appetite for reading the Proof blog.